Senecio Barbertonicus: Care Guide + 8 Mistakes to Avoid (Succulent Bush Senecio)

If you’re looking for a hardy, an easy-to-grow succulent that can tolerate a wide range of conditions, the Senecio barbertonicus, or “succulent bush Senecio,” is a great choice.

You might be surprised to learn that it’s not a true succulent. Here’s why.

This plant does not store water in its leaves like normal succulents, despite its common name. However, it is still a drought-tolerant plant that can survive long periods without water. That’s one of the reasons why succulent bush Senecio is such a popular houseplant.

This article will explain all you need to know about Senecio barbertonicus care (and what to avoid).

Native Habitat

This South African native is related to the well-known “string of pearls” plant (Senecio rowleyanus), but it has a more compact, bushier growth habit.

In its native habitat, succulent bush Senecio can reach up to 6 feet (1.8 m) in height, but (don’t freak out) it is usually much smaller when grown in pots.

It is an evergreen perennial that produces small, yellow flowers in summer. However, succulent bush Senecio is a fast-growing plant and can quickly become leggy if not given enough light. To prevent this, provide bright, indirect light and give the plant an occasional light pruning.

Senecio Barbertonicus Care Guide

It doesn’t matter if you have a green thumb; anyone can grow succulent bush Senecio with success. Although, the plant does not like wet feet, so be sure to plant it in well-draining soil. If your pot doesn’t have good drainage holes, add some rocks or gravel to the bottom before adding the soil.

Potting & Soil

senecio barbertonicus plant in a pot

The first step is to find a wide and shallow pot rather than deep. This will help prevent the roots from becoming waterlogged. Use a potting mix that is specifically for cacti and succulents.

Once you have your pot and soil, it’s time to plant your succulent bush, Senecio. Carefully remove the plant from its pot and loosen the roots before planting it in the new pot. You can either plant it in the center of the pot or off to one side. Just be sure that the roots are not sitting in water.

Here are some of the things that you should avoid during the potting process:

  1. Don’t plant your succulent bush Senecio too deeply.

The stem should be just barely covered with soil. This is important because if the stem is buried too deeply, it can rot.

It’s also important to avoid covering the leaves with soil. This can cause them to rot as well.

  1. Be careful not to break the leaves or stems.

The leaves and stems of your succulent bush Senecio are delicate, so be careful not to damage them when transplanting.

  1. Don’t water your plant right away.

Give the plant a few days to adjust to its new pot and soil before watering it. Which will help prevent the roots from getting waterlogged.

succulent bush Senecio plants in garden


Once you’ve potted your succulent bush Senecio, providing the right conditions for it to thrive is essential. So now, let’s turn our attention to how to properly water your new plant.

1.) Water your plant when the soil is dry

It would be best if you only watered your succulent bush Senecio when the top inch of soil is dry. This is important because overwatering can lead to root rot, which can kill your plant.

If you’re not sure whether the soil is dry, it’s better to err on the side of caution and wait another day or two before watering.

2.) Use lukewarm water.

Cold water can shock the plant and damage the roots. Lukewarm water is best. Just be sure it’s not too hot, or you could scald the roots.

3.) Let the water drain away completely

It’s essential to let the water drain away entirely after watering. This will help prevent the roots from becoming waterlogged.

If the roots sit in water, they can rot and kill the plant.

4.) Avoid getting water on the leaves

Water on the leaves can cause them to rot, so be sure to avoid getting the leaves wet when you’re watering your plant.

5.) Don’t water your plant too often

You should only water your Senecio barbertonicus when the soil is dry. Watering it too often can lead to root rot.

How to Propagate Senecio Barbertonicus

Now that you know how to water your succulent bush Senecio let’s look at how to propagate it properly.

Stem Cuttings

The best way to propagate your succulent bush Senecio is using stem cuttings. To do this, you’ll need to carefully remove a stem from the plant and then pot it in moist soil.

Leaf Cuttings

You can also propagate your plant by using leaf cuttings. To do this, you’ll need to remove a leaf from the plant and then pot it in moist soil.

Use Offsets

Offsets are small plantlets that form on the stems of some succulents. You can remove these offsets and pot them in moist soil to propagate your plant.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

senecio barbertonicus plant with blooming flowers

Anyone new to owning succulent bush Senecio will undoubtedly make a few mistakes when they’re first starting. Here are some of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them.

1.) Not watering often enough

One of the most common mistakes is not watering their plant often enough. For example, if you don’t water your plant often enough, the leaves will start to wrinkle and will eventually die.

The problem is that people think these plants don’t need water because they’re desert plants. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

2.) Overwatering

Another common mistake is overwatering. This can be just as deadly as not watering often enough.

If you overwater your plant, the roots will start to rot, and the plant will eventually die.

3.) Not using the right soil

Succulent plants need well-draining soil to thrive. If you don’t use the proper soil, your plant will eventually die.

4.) Not using a pot with a drainage hole

Using a pot with a drainage hole in the bottom is essential. This will allow the water to drain and prevent the roots from becoming waterlogged.

5.) Not getting enough light

Succulent plants need plenty of sunlight to thrive. It will eventually die if you don’t give your plant enough light.

6.) Using the wrong fertilizer

If you use the wrong fertilizer, you could end up harming your plant. So it’s essential to use a fertilizer designed explicitly for succulent plants.

7.) Not repotting when necessary

Succulent plants need to be repotted every few years. If you don’t repot your plant, the roots will become cramped, and the plant will eventually die.

8.) Not propagating when necessary

Succulent plants will eventually die if they’re not propagated. This is because the plant will become too large, and the roots will become overcrowded.

Common Problems

Being able to tell if your succulent bush Senecio is healthy or not is essential. This way, you’ll be able to take the necessary steps to fix the problem before it’s too late.

Here are some of the most common signs that your plant is unhealthy:

The leaves are wilting

If the leaves on your plant are wilting, it’s a sign that it is not getting enough water. Wilting leaves are one of the first signs that your plant is dying.

It’s not growing

If your plant isn’t growing, it’s a sign that something is wrong. For example, it could be that the plant isn’t getting enough light or water.

The leaves are yellowing

If the leaves on your plant are yellowing, it’s a sign that it is not getting enough nutrients. This is usually caused by using the wrong fertilizer.

It’s not flowering

Your plant might not be flowering because it’s not getting enough light. If you want your plant to flower, you must ensure it gets at least six hours of sunlight daily.

The leaves are falling off

You’ll notice immediately if the leaves on your plant are falling off. This is usually a sign that the plant is not getting enough water.


Aphids can be attracted to this plant. For a natural treatment, use neem oil and dish soap.


Caution: this plant could be toxic to animals and humans. Keep it out of reach of small children and cats and dogs. Every part of the plant is poisonous (dried or alive). It can even be fatal with a dose of 15mg per kg. of bodyweight and can cause liver disease.

Read more about the toxicity of succulents at the ASPCA website.

Ready for a Senecio Barbertonicus?

The succulent bush Senecio is a beautiful and unique plant that’s perfect for anyone who wants to add a little personality to their home. These plants are easy to care for and can thrive in almost any environment.

However, avoiding common mistakes such as overwatering, not watering often enough, and not using the correct soil is essential. These mistakes can kill your plant and leave you with an empty pot.

When you invest time in properly caring for the different types of succulents, such as the Senecio bush, you’ll be rewarded with healthy, thriving plants that will bring joy to your space for many years.

After you’ve taken care of one succulent bush, you might want to try your hand at propagating it— which is a great way to create new plants and fill up your home with even more succulent beauty.

It won’t be long before you’re an expert at growing and caring for Senecio barbertonicus! So enjoy the experience and the rewards that come with it.

References & Resources

Senecio barbertonicus Klatt
Bull. Herb. Boissier 4:840 1896 – Link

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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.